Canon Pixma MP540 review
A cheap yet well-specified all-in-one that produces excellent results with the minimum of fuss. The MP540 looks good and is well put together too, making it the perfect all-rounder.
Review Date: 26 Aug 2009
Price when reviewed: (£63.83 ex VAT)
Reviewed By: Christopher Brennan
The Canon Pixma MP540 offers a lot in terms of specification.
It's an all-in-one device that has the usual print, copy and scan capability, as well as two paper trays and a variety of digital memory card slots for direct printing. In addition, the MP540 has a PictBridge port for direct camera printing. There's an LCD screen for navigating menus and operation, and an iPod-style wheel control for making selections. The MP540 has five separate ink tanks, with the CMYK using dye-based ink and a further pigment-based black for improved photographic performance.
Canon's designs haven't changed much in the past few years and the MP540 has the usual high-quality build and finish. The silver and black colour scheme might not appeal to all tastes, but it is modern and inoffensive enough. One of the best features of the design is that when it's not in use there are no protruding parts and the minimum amount of desk space is used. The only connectivity option on the MP540 is USB, so no wifi or networking, but at the price point - we've seen it for selling for about £75 online - that's a fair omission. The MP540 is quite a lot of printer and scanner for your money.
The flaps and openings are all reassuringly robust and the paper trays are simple to open and close for refilling. The screen and buttons are all kept under a flap on the right-hand side of the printer and finding your way around all the options is a breeze. One of the best features of the Pixma range, though often overlooked, is the automatic output tray. It might sound a touch lazy, but when you press print, the front door opens silently and gently so that paper can pass though. A small thing, but it saves your sheet of A4 scrunching noisily into a closed door and potentially damaging the print heads or paper path.
The MP540 wasn't as speedy as some printers we've seen from Canon, but the results more than made up for the wait. Our draft text test took six seconds and looked good enough to be used as normal. Clearly there were some jagged edges to the characters, but overall the result was impressive. A page of best-quality text took a little longer, appearing in one minute 38 seconds, however the quality was very good. The text was deep black and impressively sharp. Our mixed graphics and text document continued to show the pedigree of the Canon with accurate colour rendition and sharp text even over complex background images.
Photo printing produced more of the same, slightly longer print times, but high-quality end results. A borderless A4 image onto glossy photo paper at the highest quality setting was ready in three minutes and 47 seconds, and you'd be hard pushed to differentiate the print-out from a standard photographic print. Detail was excellent and, once again, colour accuracy was spot on. A 6 x 4in image on the same settings was ready to view in one minute and 26 seconds, though you can quite happily knock the print setting back to standard quality and get an excellent print in 40 seconds.
The scanning capabilities of the MP540 were just as good as its printing ones. Colour copies took just more than 30 seconds, but the reproduction and image captured was excellent. Black and white copies took just 15 seconds, though there wasn't quite as much detail as we'd have liked. The scanner driver is good for either the novice or more experienced user, though it does tend to hide some of the more advance controls.
We were really impressed with the Pixma MP540; it marries a great range of features with a very competitive price, without cutting any corners. Print quality is very good and both scan and copy features perform well. At its suggested price point of £99 it's worth the money, but as it's available for less, it's even more strikingly good value. This is an extremely capable package that we can highly recommend.
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